Edward Burtynsky creates art with a green message, warning of the implications of development on the environment...
Photographic artist Edward Burtynsky brings environmental cause and effect to the forefront of our attention with his awe-inspiring collection of world images representing the interaction between industry, construction and the natural environment. Both inspirational and ethically evocative Burtynsky's images show the compromise between natural and man-made beauty as a consequence of industry. Here we preview some of his most spectacular images.
The world's largest engineering and construction site rests in China and has been thoroughly examined by Burtynsky, having massive implications for nature and the Chinese population. The Three Gorges Dam project along the Yangtze River in Hubei province of China has destroyed 11 cities in less than 6 months displacing 1.2 million people in the name of energy, a feat which in other circumstances would be considered an unnecessary disaster. But the Dam has its environmental benefits too. The 400 mile dam construction will supply enough water to generate 84 billion kilowatts-per-hour of electricity, enough to power 67.2 billion homes every day. The production of this 'clean' energy will reduce the coal consumption in China by 31 million tonnes a year, cutting the emission of 100 million tonnes of greenhouse gas and creating an environmental conundrum which is mirrored in Burtynsky’s visual message.
Also in China, Burtynsky's work has focused on the old factories, once hubs of productivity and now, falling foul of an industrial restructuring implementation which has seen 35-40 million Chinese workers lose their jobs, laying abandoned and in disrepair, an unofficial museum to thriving labour times and awaiting demolition for residential and commercial parks.
Carving a new landscape from ancient lands, quarries which provide the marble, the stone and other materials for building create a dramatic but damaged scape and a very visual reference to the conservation issue: a natural formation manually reconstructed into an unnatural but yet undeveloped space. Quarries are abandoned after they have served their purpose scarring the landscape and creating a different magnificence to be awed at or appalled by.
Burtynsky says of his work: "These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. We are drawn by desire - a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success."
Burtynsky’s Manufactured Landscapes will have its UK premier as part of the 'Sky Art Goes Green' series this September but more of his work can be viewed at his
Niki May Young